A short self portrait

I have been immersed in “The Spiral of Possibility this weekend….a wonderful, transformative course run by Interbe …. And from one of the many explorations, a self portrait has popped out.

Sir Galahad, Little Miss Roberts and “The Electric” eye each other up in the bike shed

Noble steeds three

Beethoven’s soft gaze caresses me from the fridge door

(next to nothing edible within)

a solitary orange whistle on my huge worktop is at the ready for when I feel lost in the kitchen

The table is mostly a riot of paint tubes, oil and rag

Scenes of dawn in far off places or from a brave childhood cover my walls

which wrap tight around my lioness-beast Steinway

Floor to ceiling, fifty nine years of collected life in music on shelves

Bagpipes strewn across a saddle 

and upstairs a little skeleton bares her red felt heart…and pours over books on anatomy and marvellous muscles .

Photos of family here and there
For twenty five years my beautiful house has evolved while I pounded the keys and wrought

 the vast spectrum of humanity from those notes.

These days colour on canvas digs deep into life.

Up with the bones, my hands return healing and poise.

Oh and in the hall rack, tango shoes wrestle with walking boots and waterproofs.


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Early in the autumn mists….

“…Over the open face of light some sober trails of vapour creep…”

Late August in Sweden, with warm mists moist around my calves and crisp cold air from the waist up… This was a memorable dawn.

I have loved breathing my way back into this scene.

as in Beethoven’s magnificent sonatas, I am reminded and reassured that with daybreak comes renewed light.

Such gratitude. 

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Being seen 

Well I have not quite finished, but my dear friends are definitely making an entrance. As soon as I started to insist on eye contact I felt their kindness reaching across the past and right into my being. It is very touching to feel such warmth …. It is palpable in my room and feels like a very nurturing ingredient in what was such a difficult chapter. 

I wish I could thank them. 

Ma Marriott (domestic bursar) and Ron (gardens) on the back row. 

Bessy and Arthur Selwood (kitchens and maintenance) in the middle.

Mrs and Mr Gassons and paint-pot Pete (who told dreadful jokes) on the front row.  

True friends, real people I could trust and felt at ease with. 


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Kind People

The kind of people I could talk to…. who were normal and friendly. As well as my piano practice, they brought sunshine into my life.   
Paint-pot-Pete used to make me laugh and  Ron with his slow ways asked questions and made me feel calm. He knew all the plants.

Bessy and Arthur sometimes invited me for tea in their flat behind the library and big tall “Ma Marriott”, although she seemed a bit scary boomed “hello little Jenny” sometimes…. it made me feel safe somehow. 

In the kitchens, Mr and Mrs G made a funny, kind hearted couple. Mr G was in charge of the enormous stinking dish washer while his wife served food from behind the hatch. She also stood by the door to clang the enormous ship’s bell at mealtimes. 

Because my mother had been so ill, and my father worked long office hours in the family law firm,we had had a lot of help from people at home…a gardener, a home help, a decorator. They became part of my extended family and I loved them. 

The sense of genuine warmth and care that came towards me from the domestic and maintenance staff were precious points of refuge and nurture. They made all the difference to me. 

I wish I could thank them.

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A fine line….

With a pencil I placed her specs back on her nose.

Just a tiny mark changed everything

Myopic and vulnerable without them 

I could mourn with her

Take her in my arms, protect and console

But as soon as they went on 

She became professorial before her time

and I felt an aversion

could see why she was shunned

and guilt on the heels of anger

swiftly sidelined compassion

How could I hate those rims and pebble lenses?

 Shaped her from entirely innocent to prissy know-it-all?

Such confusion.

I must have hated her for drawing to her the outpouring of viciousness that spewed from all the other angry little girls. 

Little girls who in that old school photo looked just as dismayed by their abandonment. 

It breaks my heart. 

The forget-me-not blue on an old sash windows reminds me of love. 

It was such a long time ago. 

By contrast my grandson (just months younger now than I was then) is a picture of vibrant joy. 

This has to be progress. 

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School Photograph.

For most of my school life I wore a bewildered look.   

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The music block

This was my refuge. It was the closest I could get to the feeling of being safely wrapped up in mother’s old grey dressing gown. Music became the love that enfolded me in her absence. This painting, brings those sensations strongly to consciousness. How amazing that it is through art that I can express this, more so than with music. 

She always encouraged me in this too, but it was not until I started this series, and now especially this one, that I have felt so connected through painting. It is a wonderful revelation.  


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